Iran will not abandon enrichment activities for good: top official
TEHRAN (AFP) Oct 23, 2003
Iran's commitment to a landmark deal with Britain, France and Germany to halt its uranium enrichment activities depends on their attitude at next month's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting, a top Iranian official said Thursday.

"We will never abandon nuclear technology," said Hassan Rowhani, a top national security official who helped negotiate Tuesday's accord.

"We will pursue enrichment, but to reassure the world we have agreed to suspend our uranium enrichment activities for a certain time," said Rowhani, quoted by the student news agency ISNA.

"When we deem it necessary, we will resume," added the secretary of the Islamic republic's Supreme Council of National Security.

Rowhani said that Tuesday's unprecedented visit by the European Union's big three foreign ministers -- Britain's Jack Straw, France's Dominique de Villepin and Germany's Joschka Fischer -- had enabled Iran to "foil an enemy plot".

During the visit, Iran agreed to open up its nuclear programme to tougher inspections, fully declare its nuclear activities and suspend enrichment -- all in line with an IAEA ultimatum that is due to expire at the end of the month.

A failure by Iran to comply could have seen it declared in breach of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the dossier forwarded to the UN Security Council.

Rowhani said it was now up to the Europeans to show good faith towards Iran when the IAEA's board of governors next meets in Vienna on November 20.

"If they keep their promises, the policy of transparency and trust continues. But if not, they should not expect anything from us," warned the official.

As for the length of a suspension of uranium enrichment, Rowhani said the decision was in Iran's hands. He also confirmed that Iran had yet to implement the suspension.

As part of the deal, the European foreign ministerse made a general offer of technical assistance.

This, diplomats say, could include guaranteeing supplies of nuclear fuel to satisfy Iran's desire for nuclear power while keeping the sensitive nuclear fuel cycle out of the country.